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‘People think I am drunk’: Galloways volunteer tells of his experience living with nystagmus

Posted on - 18th June, 2020 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Charities, Health, Penwortham, Preston News
Matt was diagnosed with Nystagmus from birth.
Matt Bagot has suffered with Nystagmus since birth. Pic: Galloways

When people notice Matt Bagot’s eyes moving quickly from side to side, they think he is drunk, but the 50-year-old has nystagmus.

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Nystagmus is a relatively unknown condition which causes constant repetitive and uncontrollable eye movements which Matt has had since birth.

He has been supporting and volunteering with Penwortham sight loss charity Galloways for several years and took place in their annual Morecambe Bay Walk in 2018, to raise funds.

Read More: Sight loss charity Galloways throws down the gauntlet for The 2.6 Challenge

He said: “I have done quite a lot of charity work over the years. I received a lot of help from Derby School when I was a child and so I want to give something back to the blind and partially sighted community,” he added.

“There are many people with severe sight problems and it is good to know that Galloway’s is always there for people when they need support.

“Now I am retired, after lockdown, I would be interested in taking part in the social activities and becoming more involved.”

With Nystagmus Awareness Day on Saturday (June 20), Matt wanted to share his story to increase understanding around his condition.

“When I was a few months old, doctor told my parents I had infantile nystagmus. I also had cataracts, which I assume I had from birth,” Matt added.

“I didn’t really think about it, as I just got on with it. I went to a primary school in Euxton for one term, but I was struggling to see the blackboard, so I went to the Derby School for the Partially Sighted in Fulwood.

“For me, it was just like going to a normal school, where the teachers helped me with visual aids.

“I don’t see my eye pattern moving, but people notice it and ask why my eyes are going from side to side. They think I am drunk, as not a lot of people have heard of nystagmus.”

Matt, who lives across the road from his parents in Euxton, Chorley, says his vision has never held him back, as he found work at Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service (LFRS) as a gardener and handyman.

Read More: Fulwood school raising funds for outdoor learning project

He says: “I had worked for LFRS for 28 years as a gardener and handyman. I have been quite lucky as I have been able to lead a normal life up until recently.

“But as my eye sight is getting worse, it is making me do things I would not have done before, like tripping over things, so I am more conscious of that.”

Due to coronavirus, the Morecambe Bay walk cannot go ahead as planned this year so the charity are asking people to take part in the Not the Morecambe Bay Walk instead.

This will be done by participants being sponsored to walk 8 miles during June in any way they can, including walking in the garden, the house, on a treadmill or during daily exercise outdoors.

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